Profound Thoughts on Thesis Writing

Since it’s April Fools Day, I thought I would share this (very real) humo(u)rous / completely awful interchange I had with my adviser the other day.  (By way of introduction, I should note that my adviser is a somewhat portly, jovial British economist in his mid-60s.)

Me: I’m having a lot of anxiety about my thesis.  I’m just worried about getting contacts in the field and developing a …

Professor Fitzgerald: [cuts me off] Look, here’s the deal.  Writing your thesis is a lot liking losing your virginity.

Me: … proper…research……….methodology….

Professor Fitzgerald: You see, think of your lit review like reading PlayBoy.  It helps you figure out where to put things, but in the end, you just have to go do the bloody thing.

Me: Uh, yeah, I get it, I guess.

Professor Fitzgerald: No, I really think this is a good analogy though.  [Elaborates on the connection between thesis writing and sex for five additional minutes, while I try to avoid any associated mental imagery.]

At the time, I wasn’t particularly fazed (despite my horror at the huge assumptions inherent in our conversation—that I am heterosexual, have had sex, and am comfortable talking about it), figuring that this just meant that I was officially “one of the boys.”  Upon telling this story to some classmates, though, it dawned to me that this kind of thing captures one small part of the difference between American and British academic culture.  That is, in the U.S., my adviser probably would have been fired years ago; here, he’s in charge of a top-ranked department.

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Jukebox: NOFX – Bob

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